I know exactly when I started to write. It was Friday 23rd April 2004. I was walking to work and suspect my mind was already relaxing, preparing for the weekend. As I dodged the rush hour traffic a story unfolded before my eyes, so vivid and compelling I knew I must write it down. I arrived at work in a lather, desperate to find scrap paper, and in a frenzy scribbled down the scenes as they had occurred.
This had never happened to me before and it was a little odd. I’d grown up with an over-active imagination but it was usually commandeered into the service of my neuroses. There was no space for stories unless they centred around me. It was more fantasy than imagination.
So why did I suddenly start to write? And it was sudden – the classic bolt from the blue (Uranus was opposing my natal Sun, astrology fans!).
The story centred around a woman trying to find her way out of a confusing situation, and after I’d written it all down I realised it was based on a Buddhist concept – the six realms of samsara. I had been reading ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’ by Sogyal Rinpoche and it must have gone to my head. In an attempt to process and understand this complex Buddhist cosmology my unconscious had created a waking dream.
Up to this point my creativity had been channelled into music. I was blinkered by minims and crotchets. I used to say, “Oh, no. I could never write a book,” all the while my fantasy life whirled about me. There’s nothing wrong with fantasy, it’s just I was lost in it. Writing means I’m now actively engaged with fantasy instead of passively watching, powerless in the face of my fears, self-doubt and self-aggrandisement. Now I’m cooperating, building an imaginal life, creating a meaningful container, a soul.
Writing liberates my mind, just as imagination frees my pen. Instead of wallowing in the mulch, I find myself transforming; the planted seeds no longer neglected and rotting but sprouting, spreading out and reclaiming the garden.
So here are my top 5 reasons to write, in no particular order:
- Self-revelation and the quest for self-knowledge
- To make my life meaningful
- To communicate something useful
- To inspire (hopefully)
- Because if I don’t write I get cranky and a nasty black ooze seeps from my brain, dribbles out of my ears and makes a mess of my shirt.
Thanks to those of you who took the time to comment or email your reasons. Here are some highlights..
Sandra Hill writes: ‘Because it’s free! Along with swimming and travel if you are a wrinkly. You do not need a partner.’
Jeremy Armstrong writes: ‘Love of words; To entertain; To inspire; To feed the soul; To understand life, and our role within it; And finally, to pay the rent (that’s six, I never could edit)’
And Dominic Moloney writes:
- ‘I have an insatiable urge to write, which is a compulsion really (and definitely not for therapeutic reasons).
- Stories in prose, poetry, or script provide me with what life can’t – an organised encapsulation of the ancient form of ‘the story’.
- I have a lifelong passion for reading which translates into a passion for writing.
- I love words – words on a page, the sounds they make in my head, the rhythm, the power, the humour and the intricacies of words laid out on a page.
- Writing gives an opportunity to meet other writers and I like people who are creative and write.’
Whatever the reason, keep writing..